Clarksburg High School Educator Named MCPS Teacher of the Year

April 24, 2023

Shannon McKenzie, child development teacher at Clarksburg High School, was named the 2023–2024 MCPS Teacher of the Year during a celebration at BlackRock Center for the Arts on April 24. She will now go on to compete for Maryland Teacher of the Year.

An educator for 23 years, she has been teaching in MCPS for seven. She previously owned and operated a private preschool for 16 years, and worked in the Preschool Education Program (PEP) program at Germantown Elementary School.

In only her second year at Clarksburg, she has rapidly grown the Child Development program, more than doubling enrollment in the second year. Forty-one students were enrolled in Child Development courses the first year; by the next year, 95 students enrolled. The Clarksburg program—the Coyote Pups Preschool Program—serves 12 families.

Colleagues say she is an energetic educator with excellent management and organizational skills, creates a welcoming and inclusive classroom with positive encouragement, challenges students out of their comfort zone, and motivates students to learn.

McKenzie is a lifelong learner, recently attending a conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and bringing back materials and skills to use in the classroom. She also prepares and arranges intern/mentor partnerships for high school students in her program to learn directly in Clarksburg cluster classrooms. She leverages partnerships to further develop future educators; she invited a park naturalist from Montgomery Parks’ Black Hill Nature Programs to share how to incorporate more nature in early childhood classrooms.

One of her latest endeavors is establishing a chapter of Educators Rising at Clarksburg, with the goal of cultivating a “grow your own” pipeline of MCPS students returning to teach in the system. She is developing partnerships with local colleges that would allow more students to earn an associate degree before high school graduation. This would also provide the opportunity to launch a National Honor Society, or for students to attend national conferences and participate in national skills-based competitions.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Towson University and a master’s in mental health and wellness from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz.

As Teacher of the Year, McKenzie will receive a cash prize and a one-year car lease from Fitzgerald Auto Malls.

She was one of three finalists for Teacher of the Year, along with Megan Anderson, fifth grade teacher at Chevy Chase Elementary School, and Eunju (April) Moon, sixth grade English teacher at Ridgeview Middle School.

Several other MCPS staff members and community members were recognized for their excellence and commitment during the 21st annual Champions for Children event. They were:

  • Amanda Hammersla, fourth grade teacher at Chevy Chase Elementary School, MCPS Rising Star Teacher of the Year
  • Beth F. Thomas, assistant principal at Hallie Wells Middle School, Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision
  • Kimani Gray, supply services coordinator, Supply and Property Management, Supporting Services Employee of the Year
  • Cecilia (Sissy) Natoli, teacher and coach at Clarksburg High School, R.A.I.S.E. Champion of the Year
  • Laura Mitchell, co-founder, Montgomery Goes Purple, Superintendent’s Community Champion for Children

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